Cannabis Branding


Cannabis Branding: How to Stand Out from the Competition

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Kiirsten May, co-owner of the marketing agency UpHouse

There’s a lot of craft cannabis companies coming to market. Over the past year, we’ve had the opportunity to brand a dozen of them in Canada. Branding is especially important in the cannabis industry, with many cultivators growing the same strains and many dispensaries selling the same brands. 

In a crowded marketplace, you’ll get more bang for your marketing buck when you strive to show customers how you’re different from competitors, rather than trying to convince customers that your bud is the best of the best.

Curious about how to do this? Here’s how to differentiate your cannabis brand from the others on the shelf.

Leverage Your Origin Story

Whether it’s the book you read to your kids at night or the plot of your favorite movie, humans love stories! We connect through stories and use them to understand each other. So what story led you to create your cannabis company?

We’ve met micro-cultivators who started a cannabis company to give their children a way to continue operating the family’s century-old farm. Another cultivator started growing cannabis to create economic prosperity on their Indigenous reserve on the West coast. Another felt that there was a stigma around women consuming cannabis, and she wanted to overcome that stigma. 

These stories will give customers a reason to believe in your company. Your story will reveal your brand values, and if customers share those values, they’ll be more likely to choose your cannabis brand over others.

Keep It Simple

Nearly every craft cannabis company we met is growing high-THC strains, driving quality into every step of their growing methodology, and delivering a top-notch sensory experience that will delight cannaseurs. While these features may be true for your cannabis brand, you cannot differentiate yourself on quality alone. You’ll get lost in the fray.

Instead, pick one or two features that are unique to your company. It might be your family’s century of farming experience. It might be your geographic location. It might be the fact that you place crystals in the growing rooms to imbue the plants with positive energy. These features will hook the customer’s attention and help you stand out from the crowd.

Consistency Is Key

People don’t like surprises when it comes to their purchase decisions. Many people conduct online research, read reviews or talk to friends before deciding to buy. Your branding plays a big role in setting that expectation, so when a customer chooses to buy your cannabis, the experience needs to fulfill their expectation. Once you’ve established your brand, you must walk it out consistently at every customer interaction.

A personal story, a few key selling features, and a consistent experience are the building blocks of a strong brand. If you’re struggling to carve out your share of the dispensary shelf, use your marketing channels to celebrate the features that make your cannabis brand different from every other. It’s a reliable way to cut through the clutter.

Kiirsten May is the co-owner of UpHouse – a marketing agency in Canada. She specializes in branding and helping organizations make their brands incomparable in their product category.

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